Proposed class-action lawsuit filed against N.S. mass shooter's estate on behalf of families
HALIFAX -- A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed against the estate of the perpetrator of Canada’s worst mass shooting, which left 22 people dead in several Nova Scotia communities last month.
Court documents filed on Tuesday show the lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the families of the victims of the massacre, with Nicholas C. Beaton listed as the representative plaintiff.
Beaton is the widower of VON employee Kristen Beaton, who was shot and killed while on her way to work in the Debert, N.S., area on April 19. She was pregnant at the time. Nick Beaton is now the primary caregiver for the couple’s three-year-old son.
“He took so much,” Beaton told CTV News. “The money doesn’t replace it for any of us. It’s just, what else do you do at this point?”
Robert Pineo of Patterson Law filed the proposed lawsuit at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Colchester County.
“There’s three groups that have suffered damages unique to them,” said Pineo in an interview with CTV News.
Those groups are outlined in the court documents.
“The first group is the surviving members of those who were murdered, and their claim is founded in wrongful death,” he added.
The second group includes those who were injured by the gunman.
The third class includes anyone who had property damaged during the rampage on April 18 and April 19, including the deaths of pets.
“The urgency of this, the reason this lawsuit was filed this soon after the tragedy is simply so that the estate of the gunman can be locked down by court order, so that those who have suffered injuries can be compensated, at least in part, at the end of the lawsuit,” said Pineo.
The common-law girlfriend of the assailant, who RCMP say was assaulted the night the massacre began, has specifically been excluded from the class-action lawsuit, said Pineo, because she may “potentially be a claimant of the estate through probate, and that would put her in an automatic conflict of interest with the other class members.”
The shooter’s estate has not gone to probate court at this point.
Pineo said the next step is to bring a motion to the court to have a representative appointed to the shooter’s estate, if one does not come forward, and to make a motion to freeze the estate’s assets. Pineo said that will likely happen sometime next week.
The class-action has yet to be certified in court, a process that could take months. None of the allegations in the suit has been proven in court.
Both Pineo and Beaton said the families hope this will give them some answers, and provide some way for the killer to be held accountable for his crimes.
“We all feel that this should be done, and that he should pay. I know he’s not here, but sometimes I wish he was,” said Beaton.
“Honestly, we’re just all emotionally broken.”